The Co-Founder of Lark Whisky, Lyn Lark, and the Co-Founder of Four Pillars, Stu Gregor, have been inducted into the Australian Distillers Hall of Fame, at the association’s annual conference in Melbourne this week.

Lark and Gregor are the fifth and sixth inductees into the Hall of Fame, following the four founding fathers of modern Australian craft distilling, Bill Lark, Cameron Syme, Patrick Maguire and posthumously Raymond ‘Spike’ Dessert, who were inducted last year.

Syme, the founder of the Great Southern Distilling Company and the Margaret River Distilling Company welcomed Lark and Gregor into the Hall of Fame during the gala dinner at the conference on Monday night.

Speaking about Lark, Syme said: “Lyn has helped a lot of people with developing gin recipes. The best words of advice that Lyn gave me, and there have been many, was ‘if you like, and you are proud of it, people will believe you’, and I think that is advice I have passed to many.

“In the family, Lyn is a massive support to Bill and enables his crazy ideas, undoubtably Lyn was the backbone that held everything together and was equally a part of the team along with Bill.

“Lyn is also an amazing grandmother to five grandkids, finding time to knit up a storm for them and showering them with granny love. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour and pleasure to induct Mrs Lyn Lark into the Australian Distillers Hall of Fame.”

Lark told those gathered at the Conference: “Thank you so much, I am very humbled to be here, I’m normally in the background and Bill does all the talking – every business needs a show pony and a draft horse.

“Thank you all, but thank you mostly to Bill. Bill is the most amazing man and being his wife is wonderful.

“It is so wonderful to see so many Australian distillers here now, all supporting each other, remembering that the industry is fantastic for big and small distilleries. We need each other, we’re a training-ground, there are so many jobs – not just distilling. We depend on each other, the marketing teams, production teams, sales team, it’s fabulous to see so many people employed and it all started on our kitchen table.

“Thank you so much for this honour, I really appreciate it.”

The sixth inductee into the Australian Distillers was also announced, with the immediate part-President of the Association, a role he held for eight years, Gregor being honoured. During Gregor’s tenure as President from 2014 to 2022, membership grew tenfold from around 30 members to well over 400.

Syme said: “In my experience, no-one has championed a cause like Stu, he is someone that you want in your corner at all times. Stu continues to champion charities like Starlight Foundation, R U OK? Day, Oz Harvest and more.

“Four Pillars and Australian distilling would not be the same without this man. He is generous, funny, argumentative and tireless. Although Stu does love being the centre of attention, he will hate being the centre of this attention, despite him thoroughly, thoroughly deserving it. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour and pleasure to induct Mr Stu Gregor into the Australian Distillers Hall of Fame.

Gregor said: “This is a rare honour and something that is a testament, if nothing else, for how far we have come as an industry and how well Australian Distillers has evolved since I got out of the way last year.

“My time with the ADA was only made possible because I have two such awesome Co-Founders Cam Mackenzie and Matt Jones, who frankly freed up so much spare time for me, it was good fortune I had some industry lobbying to keep me occupied.

“The day we received notification of the full $350,000 excise rebate in 2021 was a red-letter day as was the appointment of Paul McLeay as our first CEO. Both those things have immeasurably improved the lot of every single distiller in Australia. “And, of course, we owe enormous gratitude to those who went before us and did the hard yards. And it’s pretty cool coming in alongside Lyn.”

He added: “How good is Lyn Lark? If I could be inducted with any human in the Australian distilling industry, it is Lyn Lark. Congratulations legend.”

The Hall of Fame announcements were made at the largest ever Australian Distillers conference, attended by more than 500 delegates, a far cry from the 2014 ‘conference’ held at the original Starward distillery which attracted 16 attendees.

“We’ve come a long way and have a long way to travel,” Gregor said.

“Australian Distillers is in great shape, there are great state bodies everywhere including NSW, surely we need to get Minns on the gins, and while we have much to still fight for as excise is going to top $100 per litre of alcohol this year, we also have much to celebrate.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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